Showdown looming over iconic site

Planners in tune with music school plan for Royal High

Music school

A plan to turn the historic derelict Royal High School in Edinburgh into a new home for an independent music school has been recommended by city planners.

The council’s officials say that bringing the A-listed building on Calton Hill back into use would would be a “significant conservation gain”.

An application has been submitted by the Royal High School Preservation Trust (RHSPT), to turn the site into a state-of-the-art base for St Mary’s Music School.

The trust has appointed architect Richard Murphy to develop designs to restore the site as a school, alongside conservation architects Simpson & Brown.

But the support of planners is likely to prompt a showdown with councillors and the business community who prefer a rival proposal to turn the long-vacant school into a five-star international hotel.

Royal High School hotel 3
Proposals for hotel were rejected

Rosewood Hotels and Resorts, which operates The Carlyle in New York, has been signed up for the £75 million project which was thrown out in December over objections to the design.

However, the application is now with the Scottish Government.

Rosewood currently manages 18 properties in 11 countries. Apart from The Carlyle, it operates the Castiglion del Bosco in Tuscany.

It has experience in the restoration and and transformation of historic buildings, many of which are listed or are located inside World Heritage Sites.

In Paris, Rosewood is overseeing the complete restoration of Hôtel de Crillon.  Situated overlooking Place de la Concorde in the centre of the city, the eighteenth century building is a Parisian landmark.

When the project was discussed by councillors last September Graeme White, head of tourism at Scottish Development International, said: “Research into the tourism market suggests that a luxury hospitality brand such as Rosewood, could stimulate interest in Edinburgh to increase development opportunities and create economic value.”

Gordon Dewar, chief executive at Edinburgh Airport and board member of VisitScotland, told the meeting that having a new world-class hotel in Edinburgh would be a game-changer for Scotland’s tourism market.

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